Newton remembers that Bryant told him, "The easiest thing in the world to do is suspend a player. All your buddies will pat you on the back and talk about how tough you are."
The problem, Bryant added, was that suspending players can lead to losing games, and the buddies wouldn't be so supportive.
Instead, Newton learned, the problems need to be headed off, handled before they became suspension offenses.
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant, quite correctly, doesn't share the reasons he has had for suspending four top players. Tony Mitchell has now missed two games. In the first, the Crimnson Tide responded well, routing Auburn in Auburn, 68-50, in Auburn.
On Saturday, just hours before Alabama tipped off at LSU, Grant announced that he had suspended two more starters – leading scorer and rebounder JaMychal Green and team leader point guard Trevor Releford – and a top back-up – Andrew Steele. Steele had been a student coach just a few weeks ago.
So what's going on in the program? Is there a ringleader of this lack of discipline, or does Bama have an unusually large number of miscreants in the basketball program? If there is a cancer in the program, it needs to be cut out. In fact, why hasn't that man (if there is such a person) already been identified and dismissed?
Is there an epidemic of bad behavior?
And how is that suspension thing is working?
A head coach has to be more than a recruiter and an X and O guy. He's got to make decisions -- sometimes tough decisions -- to keep the program competitive.
The LSU game is just one in a season, although many thought this was a game Alabama could win and which might be important to an NCAA bid later this year. Even without those four players Bama fought the good fight before losing 67-58.
There is no questioning Grant's right – responsibility, even – to make the decision he made Saturday afternoon. But it badly hurt the innocent teammates of those players who were suspended.
Better to nip it in the bud.